Telling the difference between food poisoning and the stomach flu can be tricky because we’re not always able to identify the cause of our symptoms; once they show up, they can be almost identical. Luckily, there are certain elements that differentiate these two, and knowing what they are can help us address the right problem.
The main difference is that food poisoning develops and is attained through contaminated foods with infectious organisms such as bacteria or parasites, whereas several different viruses can cause stomach flu. It is highly contagious and it travels from person to person, but its symptoms may not show up until 24 to 48 hours after coming in contact with the virus. Food poisoning, on the other hand, shows its symptoms within 1 to 6 hours after eating the contaminated substance.
You may get food poisoning from eating contaminated or undercooked meat; however, meat isn’t the only source of food poisoning. Other foods can also carry the illness:
- Raw fish or oysters
- Raw and undercooked eggs
- Contaminated water
- Unpasteurized milk or juice
- Fruits and vegetables that aren’t well-washed
When it comes to symptoms, stomach flu and food poisoning share almost all of them: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and fever. But because viral illnesses tend to be less aggressive, a telltale sign that your symptoms are being caused by food poisoning rather than stomach flu could be the presence of bloody vomit or stools, muscle weakness, and dizziness.
Dehydration is also present in both illnesses, which is why it is important to replenish your body with clean water and electrolytes—these can be naturally found in raw coconut water, collard greens, black-eyed peas, broccoli, bananas, kiwis, spirulina, tomatoes, and celery.
It is easier to treat stomach flu symptoms because many of the viruses tend to go away on their own in 1 or 3 days. The best way to approach and reduce its symptoms is by adequate fluid intake and consumption of the following foods, both during and after.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Coconut Water
- Chamomile Tea
- BRAT Diet (stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and [Whole Grain] Toast)
Try to stay away from fruit juices or milk because they may prolong the symptoms. In addition to consuming more electrolytes, fighting food poisoning requires more attention to our diet; try adding these foods for a faster recovery:
- Garlic contains strong antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also relieves symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain.
- Basil Leaves have antimicrobial properties, and are excellent in soothing the abdominal discomfort caused by food poisoning.
- Honey, with both antifungal and antibacterial qualities, can help to heal an upset stomach.
- Ginger works as a quick remedy for nausea and vomiting.
Take measures to protect yourself from these illnesses by washing your hands often, refrigerating perishable foods, cooking meat appropriately, and keeping food preparation surfaces, and utensils, clean.